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What I Wish Someone Had Told Me About Periods



Gang, if you're someone who doesn't like to talk about periods or you think there's a limit to the discussion, today's post will more than likely not be one for you. I've talked about periods briefly only once before on NB; discussing the ways in which I make the whole riding the crimson wave easier and more pleasurable for myself but, I didn't really talk about the taboos and discoveries surrounding menstruation that I've made over the years. There seems to be a menstruation movement in the media in recent years where talking about periods is more widely accepted and encouraged and I could *not* be happier about this. Back when I was a pre-teen to teen, period talk was the bare minimum and the best (and sometimes the only way to find out anything about them) was in teen magazines with those agony aunt sections. Even then, the information presented was often basic, flowery with the language, and never straight to the point. It would cover the fact that you will leak blood for a few days, generalised that every girl and woman would be angry and upset during the whole process, and that was that. Since reading those slightly misguided mags as a 13 year old trying to understand the cycle she would endure for many years to come, I have discovered many more things - some good and some bad - that I just *wish* someone had mentioned to me all those years ago.

Periods are not the same every time. As a teen when I first started my periods, I was honestly led to believe that it would be a "same shit, different month" sort of deal and it absolutely is not. Most of the time my periods are extremely painful and draining for a good 2-3 days, but other times it's 1Ox worse and makes me generally ill - there's no other way to describe it. I also was not aware of the whole irregularity that many women experience and the whole "you will have a period every 28-32 days that will last around 3-5 days" one size fits all claims don't apply to many - including myself. Although I didn't go out of my way to ask if it would be the same each and every time, I feel like it's obvious general knowledge for all women who have experienced it at least a few times so you know, shout it from the rooftops a little more so the younger generation know.

PMS is not the same every time. And it's also not limited to *just* when you're actually *on* your period. Something I was also led to believe as a teen is that PMS would involve being angry, upset and tearful, and "acting crazy" and this was what to expect. When I think of the teen-girl magazines that I got this information from, they should have made more of an effort to explain that everyone is different and each individual might have different experiences from time to time - they certainly should not have fed into the "girls on their periods are crazy" bullshit that a lot of men (and unfortunately women) feel the need to shout into the void. Typically, I get a little bit tearful the week before my period, physically drained and sore/tender in various areas of my body, and my skin acts out and breaks out into extremely painful spots. These are usually "clues" that make me think I might be due soon, but no one prepared me to expect this before the period started. I then feel physically sick, have horrendous cramps and headaches, and generally just feel rough throughout my period so I actually feel pretty damn rotten 2 weeks out of the month. Bliss magazine didn't tell me about that now did they? It's also so important for people to be aware that PMS effects all women completely differently. Some with have physical ailments, some with feel mentally drained, some will be emotionally unavailable - it's such a unique experience for everyone who goes through it and it shouldn't be generalised.



Sometimes you won't have any symptoms and it will be a surprise... sometimes you'll get extra surprises. Once I started to get to grips with the idea that each period could be different each time, I then discovered that sometimes you won't get any warning at all - no PMS, no crying, no nothing. This can happen at the most inconvenient times and it doesn't matter how much you love being a woman and how period positive you can be, you will swear effs and jeffs at your uterus for being such a burden and party pooper. This can happen when you're on public transport, when you're swimming, when you're having sex... Taking it all in your stride is the aim but of course this is easier said than done. If it happens to happen when you're having sex, at least it will tell you a great deal about the character of the person you're sleeping with is all I'm going to say! The other end of it is that you might experience spotting or change in your discharge. Again, not being aware of these things can cause panic and distress but it's completely normal and you can sometimes even experience "mini-periods" where you might have a normal flow for a day then things might resume as normal. Period tracker apps can be a godsend for these surprises as if it something that is happening frequently and it is worrying you, you can view just how frequent it is and speak to someone about it.

You will either shit your guts out and need to do it more than regularly or you will be in a painful constipation coma. This is living, girls.

You will also potentially (probably) become incredibly horny and guess what? Having sex is fab. Periods are always talked about as being some disgusting phase every month that shouldn't be talked about - especially amongst teens I found - so one thing that certainly was never discussed when I was younger was period sex. Having sex on your period might not be for everyone but the important thing here is that it *is* an option and it can be enjoyable. People often curl their nose up at this as they think its gross or messy, but it doesn't have to be. If you're that bothered by it, try it in the shower! But I fully understand that not everyone is okay with the sight of blood, so for those of you who are curious and want to try it, here's a great blog post suggesting some easy ways to prevent period sex replicating *that* scene from The Shining. In all seriousness though, if you're with a partner who thinks its disgusting then I am sorry because your body is doing it's thing, it's going through it's natural process and actually? It's still just you and your body just slightly different for a few days. Period sex can be great as our hormones run high and we can crave sexual activity more than usual (not to mention orgasms can suppress headache pain to boot).

You will stain everything you ever loved. Especially at least a handful of pairs of your "nicest" pants.

There's more to periods than tampons and disposable pads. Fantastically informative period positive bloggers such as Cattitude & Co. and Eco Fluffy Mama are paving the way to educating more of us - young and old - in the ways of period talk and expectations but one area in particular that these two ladies (to name but a few,) are really excelling is raising awareness about disposable products. Disposable products have a shockingly large amount of "bad" ingredients but luckily, more companies and brands are going down an organic and natural route and products such as reusable moon cups and cloth pads are a thing and they're thriving. These options would have been a completely alien concept for me as a teen and I only really recently fully understood what they were, how they work, and the silly stigma surrounding them. There's a lot of different options out there for women to try and feeling confident and comfortable to explore these various options is becoming more accessible and filling us all with more knowledge with is fab.



Your period shouldn't be used against you. When I was younger (and possibly more naive? Who knows), I used to think it was okay for others to blame things on my period. If I was angry, hurt, or upset - oh it's because Amy's got the painters in. Ah, she's just lost her temper - it's because Aunt Flo's visiting. So many jokes are made about women's actions and reactions during "that time of the month" but honestly? I don't find them that funny. This isn't me being a Sensitive Sally here as I strongly believe when so many women can go through such extremely painful, draining, and frankly taxing periods, it's incredibly compassionless and actually demeans a woman's sheer daily strength.

Wanting to cough or sneeze will make you audibly scream "no no no!" every single time.

Day two of having the painters in will always be worse than the day one dread.

Being honest and open about my cycle is much more rewarding and confidence boosting. I would say until the last couple of years, I was actually quite ashamed of my period. I would hide sanitary products on trips to the toilet and certainly wouldn't have a chat about my period with my ex partner beyond the whole "I'm on this week" only to be met with a notification alerting me to the meme about how it was blow job week (I know. Woe is fucking me lads). Nowadays I'm very open about my period in my relationship and various friendships. I work in a predominantly female environment and I'm always so thankful that myself and colleagues tell each other when we're on our periods and when they're particularly causing problems. It makes my work environment more positive and has meant we've shared ideas, tips and tricks for easing cramps and heavy flows. It's also took my relationship to a completely different level because as silly as it may seem, it has created an air of vulnerability on both our behalves as I've been very vocal and Matt has been extremely understanding and eager to further educate himself. It makes the pain of my cycle easier to deal with and also makes instances like having an extremely heavy flow whilst out for date day lunch (sorry jeans, you were destroyed) something to react lightheartedly about by his side instead of apologising and feeling embarrassed.

Leaking is just something that happens and sometimes it just can't be avoided.



I feel like I could waffle on about this for so much longer and there's bound to be things I wanted to say that I'll only remember long after this post went live, but I think openly talking about menstrual cycles and the way they effect us is so important as it can be eye-opening and can produce valuable knowledge for not just women but friends, family, partners, and employers of said women. Some of us have unfortunately had pretty shoddy education on the topic at school, from parents, and from similarly clueless friends at the time it was most vital to learn, but now that it's becoming a wider topic in social discussions and stigma surrounding periods is slowly fizzling away, I hope people can see the great side to them and appreciate that talking about them only makes us more comfortable, accepting, and educated.


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